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Just south of modern St. Augustine, hidden off the well-worn tourist path of t-shirt stands, sprawling condos and beach-front hotels, stands a rather inconspicuous National Monument called Fort Matanzas. Accessible by a short ferry ride across a small river, it was built by the Spanish in to protect St. Augustine from surprise attack.

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Fort Matanzas is more a large guardhouse than full-fledged fort. Tourists who come across the simple tower certainly find it far less impressive than the formidable Castillo de San Marco, the star-shaped citadel that dominates St. Augustine's historic downtown. This largely unremarked atrocity from America's distant past was one small piece of the much larger struggle for the future of North America among contending European powers. The notion of Spaniards fighting Frenchmen in Florida four decades before England established its first permanent settlement in America, and half a century before the Pilgrims sailed, is an unexpected notion to those accustomed to the familiar legends of Jamestown and Plymouth.

The fact that these first settlers were Huguenots dispatched to establish a colony in America in , and motivated by the same sort of religious persecution that later drove the Pilgrims from England, may be equally surprising.

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That the mass execution of hundreds of French Protestants by Spanish Catholics could be mostly overlooked may be more surprising still. But this salient story speaks volumes about the rapacious quest for new territory and brutal religious warfare that characterized the European arrival in the future America.

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Universal Crossword. Daily Word Search. Mah Jong Quest. Subscribe Top Menu Current Issue. Archaeology U. History World History Video Newsletter. America's Hidden History book cover Smithsonian Books. Fort Matanzas, about fifty feet long on each side, was constructed of coquina, a local stone formed from clam shells and quarried from a nearby island. Fort Caroline, the small, triangular, wood-palisaded fort that was occupied by a few hundred men, women and children when attacked by the Spanish.


Author Kenneth C. Davis Nina Subin. Like this article?

Previous Article Goodbye, Columbus. Transports hired to carry convicts to Botany Bay The Sirius and the Supply commissioned Preparations for sailing Tonnage of the transports Persons left behind Two convicts punished on board the Sirius The Hyaena leaves the Fleet Arrival of the fleet at Teneriffe Proceedings at that island Some particulars respecting the town of Santa Cruz An excursion made to Laguna A convict escapes from one of the transports, but is retaken Proceedings The fleet leaves Teneriffe, and puts to sea The following vessels were at length contracted for, and assembled in the River to fit, and take in stores and provisions, viz the Alexander , Scarborough , Charlotte , Lady Penrhyn , and Friendship , as transports; and the Fishbourn , Golden Grove , and Borrowdale , as store-ships.

The Prince of Wales was afterwards added to the number of transports, on a representation being made to the Treasury Board that such an addition was necessary. The transports were immediately prepared for the reception of the convicts, and the store-ships took on board provisions for two years, with tools, implements of agriculture, and such other articles as were considered necessary to a colonial establishment.

This ship was originally called the Berwick , and intended for the East India Company; but having, while on the stocks, met with some accident by fire, was purchased by Government for a store-ship, and as such had performed one voyage to America.

Her burden was about tons; and being, from her construction, well-calculated for this expedition, she was taken into the service as a man of war, and with her capacity changed also her name. As the government of the intended colony, as well as the command of the Sirius , was given to Captain Phillip, it was thought necessary to appoint another captain to her, who might command her on any service in which she might be employed for the colony, while Captain Phillip should be engaged in his government.

For this purpose an order was signed by his Majesty in Council, directing the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to appoint John Hunter esquire then a master and commander second captain of the Sirius, with the rank of post.

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Although this ship mounted only 20 guns, and those but six-pounders, yet on this particular service her establishment was not confined to what is usual in a ship of that class; but, with a first and second captain, she had also three lieutenants, a master, purser, surgeon and two mates, a boatswain, a gunner, and a subaltern's detachment of marines.

The Supply brig was also put into commission, and the command given to Lieutenant Henry Lidgbird Ball. This vessel was to accompany the Sirius as an armed tender; and both ships, having completed their equipment at Deptford-yard, dropped down on the 10th of December to Long Reach, where they took in their guns, powder, and other stores. One or two of the transports had in the mean time arrived at Portsmouth, and the Charlotte and Alexander proceeded to Plymouth, where they were to receive the male and female convicts that were ready for them.

This was done accordingly; and, every necessary arrangement having taken place, the troops intended for the garrison embarked, and the convicts, male and female, were distributed in the different transports. Anxious to depart, and apprehensive that the wind, which had for a considerable time been blowing from the quarter favourable to his passage down the Channel, might desert him at the moment when he most wished for its continuance, he on the Thursday following made the signal to prepare for sailing. But here a demur arose among the sailors on board the transports, who refused to proceed to sea unless they should be paid their wages up to the time of their departure, alleging as a ground for this refusal, that they were in want of many articles necessary for so long a voyage, which this money, if paid, would enable them to purchase.

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The custom of their employ, however, being against a demand which yet appeared reasonable, Captain Phillip directed the different masters to put such of their people as refused to proceed with them to sea, on board of the Hyaena frigate, and to receive an equal number of her seamen, who should afterwards be re-exchanged at sea, her captain being directed to accompany the fleet to a certain distance.

This difficulty being removed, and the ship's companies of the Sirius and the Supply having received the usual advance of two months' wages, on Saturday the 12th the men of war and some of the transports got under sail, with a view of dropping down to St. Helen's, and thence proceeding to sea; but the wind falling short, and proving unfavourable, they brought up at Spithead for the night, and at day-break next morning the whole fleet weighed with a fresh breeze, and, having a leading wind, passed without any accident through the Needles.

The transports were of the following tonnage, and had on board the undermentioned number of convicts, and other persons, civil and military, viz The Alexander , of tons, had on board male convicts; 2 lieutenants, 2 sergeants, 2 corporals, 1 drummer, and 29 privates, with 1 assistant surgeon to the colony. The Scarborough , of tons, had on board male convicts; 1 captain, 2 lieutenants, 2 sergeants, 2 corporals, 1 drummer, and 26 privates, with 1 assistant surgeon to the colony. The Charlotte , of tons, had on board 89 male and 20 female convicts; 1 captain, 2 lieutenants, 2 sergeants, 3 corporals, 1 drummer, and 35 privates, with the principal surgeon of the colony.

The Lady Penrhyn , of tons, had on board female convicts; 1 captain, 2 lieutenants, and 3 privates, with a person acting as a surgeon's mate. The Prince of Wales , of tons, had on board 2 male and 50 female convicts; 2 lieutenants, 3 sergeants, 2 corporals, 1 drummer, and 24 privates, with the surveyor-general of the colony.